Group pushes for later school start time - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Group pushes for later school start time

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Students are looking to have school start an hour later (WFSB) Students are looking to have school start an hour later (WFSB)

A group in West Hartford is trying to convince the school board to let students hit the snooze button a few more times before the opening bell.

Supporters of a plan to push back the opening bell at West Hartford high schools say a little extra snooze time would help kids in the classroom.

Hall High School junior Emma Waddell said her idea for researching her fellow classmates' sleep patterns came from a simple idea. She never feels fully awake when the opening bell rings at 7:30 a.m.

“It's hard to get up in the morning, especially it's hard to pay attention first period when you're up that early,” Waddell said.

She told the Board of Education on Tuesday evening that most of the students she surveyed would prefer pushing back the beginning of the day by one hour to 8:30 a.m.

Supporters said they have science on their side.

Experts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Association of Sleep Medicine recommend high schools not start until at least 8:30 a.m. because they say teens need 8 hours of sleep.

Dr. Susan Rubman, who runs the behavioral sleep medicine program at the Hospital of Central Connecticut, said due to high schoolers circadian rhythms, they generally stay up late.

“They genuinely cannot fall asleep before 11 or 12 and they're not prepared to wake up until 7 or 8 in the morning,” Rubman said.

The school board only listened on Tuesday and did not weigh in, although, in the past, opponents of the plan have said it would require changing bus and athletic schedules.  

Waddell said she believes it would be worth it.

“You definitely wake up more throughout the day and definitely in the middle of the day you feel like you can actually focus,” she said.

The group who supports this plan calls themselves Wake Up West Hartford, and they point out other schools in New England, including Greenwich, have pushed back their high school start time, but the majority of schools still start before 8 a.m.

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